Jack Gerald Gower was Springfield born and bred. He worked for Essex Electrical Installations before joining the Royal Air Force in 1940. After training in Canada he was posted to Bomber Command. He married in 1944 and five months later his aircraft failed to return from a raid on Belgium. It was last reported over the North Sea with tail damage. Jack’s parents lived in Arbour Lane, his wife in Cheshire.
Jack was born in Chelmsford on 20th May 1922, the youngest son of Henry Joseph Gower (1887-1968) and Kate Bertha Gower (nee Cable) (1887-1970). His parents, both originally from the Chelmsford area, had married in London in 1912.
He was baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Springfield on 24th September 1922. At the time his father was groom, resident at 30 Arbour Lane, Springfield.
His siblings included Barbara L. Gower (born in 1916), Eric Walter Gower (1920-2003), Daphne Freda Gower (1924-1996), and Beryl Gower.
In 1927 the family were resident at 30 Arbour Lane.
Prior to the Second World War Jack worked for Essex Electrical Installations and was a keen sportsman. He joined the Royal Air Force in 1940. He trained in Canada and later served as Pilot Officer 186476 in a Bomber Command unit, 10 Squadron.
In July 1944 Jack married Mary Heyes at Staylbridge in Cheshire. A Chelmsford newspaper reported:
"R.A.F. BRIDEGROOM—At the Wesleyan Churcn, Stalybridge, the marriage was solemnised of Miss Mary Heyes, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Heyes, Cross Leech Street, Stalybridge, and Sgt. Jack Gower. R.A.F.V.R., youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Gower, of 30 Arbour Lane, Chelmsford.
The bride wore white lace, with long embroidered veil, and orange blossom, and carried white roses, with trailing fern. Bridesmaids were the Misses Elsie and Lily Heyes (sisters ot the bride), in pink satin. Daphne and Beryl Gower (sisters of the bridegroom), in pale blue taffeta, and Nancy Robinson, in green; all wore matching headdresses, and carried shell pink carnations, with fern. Mr. Eric Gower was best man. The presents included cheque from the bridegroom's friends of the R.A.F."
Five months later on 26th December 1944 Jack was on board a Halifax III aircraft NR246 (markings ZA-Y) that took off from R.A.F. Melbourne in Yorkshire at 11.50 a.m. to bomb German positions at Saint-Vith in Belgium, part of the Ardennes battle. It was to have been Jack's last mission before being grounded. He was bomb-aimer. 294 aircraft participated in the operation.
Jack’s crew mates were Flying Officer 182761 Bernard Yates (aged 22), Sergeant (Flight Engineer) 1867033 Philip John Mansell (aged 20), Pilot Officer (Navigator) 183628 William Ross Douglas Macleod, Pilot Officer 38423 Peter Colin Edwards (Royal Australian Air Force), Flight Sergeant (Air Gunner) 2210907 Thomas Murphy (aged 19), and Pilot Officer 184147 Dennis Edwalds Addyman (aged 22).
The aircraft was presumed to be over the target at 3.35 p.m. and at 4.35 p.m. a fix was obtained in position 50.57N 15.3E. A minute later a call sign stating “tail damage” was received from approximately over Calais. It was believed the aircraft had plunged into the sea off the Kent resort of Margate at around 4.40 p.m.
Jack Gerald GOWER, Pilot Officer, 10 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed when his aircraft crashed into the North Sea. Aged 22
The crew of seven were killed in the crash.
Just three days before their deaths the crew had survived a landing accident at R.A.F. Melbourne when their aircraft over-ran the runway and ended up with a collapsed undercarriage following a failure in the hydraulic system.
Only one other aircraft, also a Halifax, was lost by the R.A.F. in the raid,
Jack, who died aged 22, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede in Surrey which lists by name over 20,000 airmen who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe, and who have no known graves. Jack is also commemorated by the Springfield war memorial. The bodies of Dennis Addyman, Philip Mansell and Thomas Murphy were recovered and buried in cemeteries in England. The other crew members are also remembered at Runnymede.
At the time of his death Jack's parents were still living at 30 Arbour Lane. They did not hear news of the presumption of his death until September 1945.
Jack’s widow, who lived in Stalybridge in Cheshire, remarried in 1948.